Friday night Doc Watson’s found a way to overcome the noise issue with Devi next door until they install more soundproofing: they had Save Station play an acoustic set to open up the show. Frontwoman Naomi Jacobs and guitarist-songwriter Phil Smith alternated between Smith’s classical guitar work and acoustic renditions of Save Station songs, playing a short set of about 20 minutes before ceding the stage to more electrified acts. Blakeslee was the first of those, backing Alyssa Gambino with guitar work from Mark Alkis and Manny Salvatori, as well as Jen Jones on bass and a guest drummer. Gambino’s vocals were stunning, soaring over the music no matter how rowdy it got through powerful runs and lengthy notes alike. The most immediate comparison that came to mind was Paramore, though any act combining diva vocals and mostly punk accompaniment could fit the bill as well. They certainly grabbed the audience’s attention and held it; charismatic as well as talented, the five piece were loads of fun visually as well as aurally. They’ve been gradually releasing singles building up to a forthcoming EP, each of which is currently available under Bandcamp’s pay-what-you-want scheme. The clear standout is “Reminders”, in which the instrumentals go a more melodic route and fade into the background, placing the vocals front and center, bookended by the memorable lyric “You got a mouth short change of a dollar, coming up short on making a point”:
Magnificent Birds of Prey had the arduous task of following Blakeslee’s barnstormer of a set. Fortunately, they were the only act present with a male lead vocalist, and their focus is primarily on guitar pyrotechnics rather than singing anyway. With each instrumentalist rocking a pedal board that could be mistaken for a NASA control center, this psychedelic grunge act had a hard time fitting even just the four of them on stage with such a huge amount of gear. Lead vocalist and guitarist Lyle Kelch, Jr. found himself leaning hard against the wall as he rocked out during their set, with bassist and backing vocalist Chris LaFrancis center stage, and veteran guitarist and vocalist Carl Kunz, Jr. against the opposite wall. Drummer Joel Adams seemed to have the most space in which to work, pounding away behind the kit as the foursome played each song. The overall effect was something like Pearl Jam, if that band had taken its turn toward classic rock far earlier, and their taste in the classics was more ’60s psychedelia and less arena oriented. While they’re currently mixing a new album, most of their set was drawn from last year’s self-titled effort, which is also available on the aforementioned Bandcamp scheme:
The last act to take the stage was sister duo Danielle & Jennifer, who had arrived late due to the loss of their family cat the same night. Determined to play through their sadness, the two gamely soldiered on through a lengthy set of originals and covers, the latter of which included Vance Joy’s “Riptide” and Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks”. Older sister Danielle switched back and forth between keys and ukulele, with Jennifer sticking with the acoustic guitar throughout. It’s the most intimate of the various formats in which they play, from recorded material that verges on Disney pop to full band jams that can be anything from jazz to rock and back again. They’ve got a song for everyone and a song for every situation, including one they wrote inspired by performances at a Ronald McDonald camp for childhood cancer survivors and a storytelling song about the Wild West that involved crowd participation. Their relentless positivity did not crack for a moment despite their unfortunate circumstances, and they were well-received by the small local crowd. You can see them next at Delaware Technical Community College on March 4th for a show benefiting The Happiness Project, which supports various mental health organizations.
By Dave Fox | Philadelphia Ambassador | @philosofoxthedj | Beat-Play and Music Without Labels, LLC